The Army’s fiscal 2019 budget request provides a nearly $10 billion boost in funding aimed at growing the force while providing more for daily operations, procurement and modernization.
At $148.4 billion, the Army’s fiscal 2019 base budget request comes in at $9.5 billion, or 7 percent, above the fiscal 2018 request. The spending plan released Feb. 12 represents a $17.4 billion increase from the fiscal 2017 enacted budget.
Including Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, the Army’s total budget request for fiscal 2019 is $182 billion. Because of the bipartisan budget deal reached by Congress last week, some OCO funding could be transferred back to the base budget, but the topline Army request would remain the same.
Modernization funding receives a significant boost from $27.9 billion requested in fiscal 2018 to $32.1 billion under the fiscal 2019 spending plan. Within that portfolio, the Army’s procurement account would increase from $18.5 billion in the fiscal 2018 request to $21.9 billion. Research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) funding would rise, accordingly, from $9.4 billion requested in fiscal 2018 to $32.1 billion in fiscal 2019.
While continuing to promote and improve near-term readiness, the budget begins to invest in the Army’s six modernization priorities in an effort to prepare the service for future high-end fights, according to Army Budget Director Maj. Gen. Paul Chamberlain.
“The majority of growth in the investment accounts are in areas that will increase war fighter readiness, soldier lethality and force-on-force capability,” Chamberlain said Feb. 12 at a Pentagon press briefing on the 2019 budget request.
Highlights include increased funding for Abrams tank upgrades from 56 in the current fiscal year to 135 in fiscal 2019. The plan calls for 210 upgraded Bradley Fighting Vehicles, up form 195 in fiscal 2018 and an increase from 107 to 197 Armored Multipurpose Vehicle (AMPV) purchases.
Orders for set of the Paladin Integrated Management self-propelled howitzer would fall from 71 in fiscal 2018 to 36 in fiscal 2019.
For the third budget cycle in a row, Army aircraft procurement would decrease in fiscal 2019. From $4.9 billion in the enacted 2017 budget, spending on new and remanufactured aircraft fell to $4.2 billion in the fiscal 2018 request and again to $3.8 billion in the new proposed spending plan.
Numbers of aircraft procured do not appreciably change from fiscal 2018 to 2019 - the Army will buy 48 remanufactured AH-64 Apaches as opposed to 50 and 12 new Apaches as opposed to 13 in fiscal 2018. Davis Welch, deputy Army budget director, said the service was able to capture nearly $1 billion in cost avoidance through multi-year contracting of aircraft.
To both replenish rounds fired in combat and boost the Army’s lethality, purchase quantities of guided multiple-launch rocket systems (GMLRS), the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMs), Javelin anti-tank missiles, 155mm artillery shells all see significant increases under the spending plan.
Still chasing a next-generation, hardened battlefield communications network, the Army in fiscal 2019 would boost the number of joint battle command – platforms (JBC-P) sets from 16,552 to 26,355.
The Army’s RDT&E accounts would not see significant increases in 2019 over fiscal 2018, though $234 million in science and technology investment would be redirected toward modernization priorities. The Army’s development of a new light tank called Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF), combat vehicle prototyping, long-range precision fires, synthetic training environments, short-range air defense (SHORAD) and future tactical unmanned aircraft systems all would received increased basic research and development funding.
The budget request supports a total Army of 1,030,500 soldiers, an additional authorization of 4,000 active duty troops over the endstrength authorized in the current fiscal year that builds upon the 8,500-soldier increase authorized by the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act but not yet funded. Personnel and operations and maintenance funding for the Army Reserve and National Guard would remain unchanged from the requested 2018 levels, according the fiscal 2019 request.
“If funded, these additional soldiers will continue to fill units, as well as reconstitute lost capability that resulted from a smaller force designed to face a different threat,” Chamberlain said. “These forces will be used to increase lethality and capacity by resourcing specific units such as fires, air defense, logistics and others.”
To pay those extra soldiers, the Army plans in fiscal 2019 to increase its military personnel accounts by $2.6 billion to $60.6 billion. That includes a 2.6 percent increase in basic pay, a 2.9 percent boost to basic housing allowance and 3.4 percent hike in basic allowance for subsistence.
Funding for daily operation of the Army would increase $3 billion under the spending plan from $39 billion in the fiscal 2018 request to $42 billion. The budget funds 20 combat training center rotations and three additional Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs).